Oh, Sunday, Sunday how could you leave and not take me…

I’ve clearly been hanging around the sports sites too long. Not only am I thinking about trivia, it’s starting to arrange itself in bulleted lists:

–Football watch: 9-1, baby. The Packers cemented themselves as the Official Feel-Good Story of the 07-08 NFL season by dispatching the Carolina Panthers handily, if not exactly tidily, 31-17. By the time they hit Dallas in two weeks the sheer plucky adorableness buildup is going to blow the Cowboys off the field.
In my pleasantest fantasies, the victory over Terrell ‘C’mon, He Hasn’t Danced on the Star in Almost Two Seasons Now!’ Owens et al. leads to Brett Favre sweeping into the Super Bowl on a white charger and striking a victory for truth, sportsmanship and general niceness everywhere. Or if that doesn’t work, I’ll accept a chop block to Randy-freakin-Moss’ knees, you capice?

…sorry, sorry. I’m just totally exasperated by time spent in the New England fans’ ESPN chatroom this evening, while they laid a 56-10 smackdown on the Bills.
Not, I add hastily (if irritably), that the Patriots aren’t truly a team for the ages, or at least until the next team for the ages comes along. It’s only that I’d forgotten what happens when the football fan mentality is taken to its logical extreme. Think about all those nature documentaries you’ve seen on wolf packs, then add body paint and not a whole lot else. The Patriots are the Alpha team, the rest of us aren’t having near as much fun, and the Patriots’ fans…do not care in the slightest.

This of course is to a certain extent their right; it’s only that beyond that extent there is a limit past which a non-testosterone-intensive fan cannot follow without feeling slightly nauseated. I don’t really expect ‘class’ out of a bunch of men trying to beat the crap out of each other – but a basic acknowledgment that we’ve progressed beyond that as a race shouldn’t be this hard to come by, should it?

–Movie watch: Fred Claus. OK, this is just getting silly. I do not wish to appear Scrooge-like here in re: the hopes and dreams of innocent children, however when we start marketing this stuff on an adult level all bets are off. Frankly there is nothing novel or exciting about the Santa Claus legend that that little TV special with the singing Bing Crosby puppet didn’t cover, oh, a century or so ago.
Please, film-makers, just knock it off. Or at least, start knocking off cheap remakes of another holiday for a change. As I understand it the legend of St. Valentine is way more commercial a prospect, anyhow. St. Patrick, now there’s another hot property. Four words: Snakes on an Island.

Bonus memo for Hairspray producers: The more you strain every last nerve to tell me how Fun! and Heartwarming! and Feel-Good! your movie is, the more I will consider it my duty to avoid it like the plague. (Interestingly, though, the marketing for the DVD plays the Travolta-in-a-Dress angle way, way down, indicating that somebody learned something from Battlefield Earth. Was startin’ to worry there for awhile.) Somehow, looking at the total box-office take, I have a feeling I’m not alone.

–HGTV watch: I have decided that Mike Holmes has reached the point where for the sake of credibility – ie,  if his desire to be a benefactor to humanity really outweighs his desire to be smug on national television – he should go off and rebuild one of those African villages he’s always babbling smugly about in the commercials. Or take on a tenement block a la Colin & Justin…or join Habitat for Humanity, or something. Oh sure, Holmes handles the occasional truly touching case now; but for the most part it’s about helping the solidly middle-class become more solid, and, y’know, being smug.

–Book watch: One of these days, the power will go out, and the children will ask how we ancient ones survived without electronic insta-gratification. If we are as wise as we are always telling ourselves we are, we will hand them a flashlight and a copy of The Phantom Tollbooth, pat them on the head, and send them to bed, smiling enigmatically.
Simply put, this may very well be the best kids’ book ever written. Certainly it is the smartest. Ran across a comment on the Net that suggests it’s altogether too smart for children, who wouldn’t be able to follow all the lovely loopy wordplay; I think they may be missing the point by a fairish margin.

This is the rare bit of media that doesn’t just provide entertainment but encourages the mind to expand beyond it, to understand that there is joy in the learning process itself. Anybody, from age ten on up, can find the way to Rhyme and Reason; what’s so terribly important is that they should want to.

(Then again, the comment was in re: the 1970 Chuck Jones animated feature. Which does a very adequate job of transferring the plot to the screen but struggles to capture the sheer exhilaration that lurks in the details, eventually settling on the sort of ‘follow your heart and anything’s possible’ moral muddle typical of the genre).

–Speaking of which, Signs of the Apocalypse watch: Was browsing through the greeting-card racks at Zellers today, and ran across a Sesame Street-themed birthday card. Picked it up and read, roughly: “Help Baby Bear and Elmo get back to Sesame Street for thier party.”

Yeah. If you don’t mind, I’ll just be over here sobbing into my copy of The Monster At the End of This Book…

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